Tag Archives: Cornwall

Looking forward

Hi people 🙂 A happy post for a change. I’m feeling good!

I have been so down for so long. All the heaviness of the past few years just heaped up on me and I was so weighed down I couldn’t get up. There is obviously a situational basis for my misery – I had the most miserable year of my life living by the beach (ironically) because I was ill in an unsuitable house, with financial troubles (not to mention marital, car, family troubles!) and no friends! But it was more than that. The stress had worn me down until I had no mental or emotional strength to fight it.

But then, there’s no rhyme or reason to depression.

black cat

I feel better now, but there’s no particular or obvious reason why I should feel better. I just do. I’m sleeping better too, and hopefully that means that the vicious circle is straightening itself out.  I hope I’ll be able to shrug it all off now and things will start to look better on a permanent basis.

I know I keep saying this, but I don’t have the life I wanted, or hoped for, or thought was right around the corner. But we hopefully have some good things on the horizon, and I truly am grateful for all the good things I have.

(But, do you know what? the glad game doesn’t work when you’re deep in the pit.)

I started a dose of amitriptyline about 3 weeks ago, and honestly I usually forget to take it, so I’m not sure whether or not it’s having any effect. But at this point, knowing what the deep pit looks like, I thoroughly recommend taking whatever hand is held out to you, just to get your head above the parapet where you can see the sun again.

Funnily, you know – I have been down in the pit deep enough to ask my GP before to give me anti-depressants, but that GP refused (bizarrely, a few years before, when I was desperately trying to get a proper diagnosis of ME, I was offered anti-depressants when I didn’t need them). This time, I just casually mentioned to my new GP that battling ME makes me feel a bit depressed every now and then, could I try anti-depressants?

No problem.

It totally depends on the doctor you get. If you need it, don’t take no for an answer, or by all means find a better doctor. They are so variable, and some of them are complete buggers.

So now, despite contemplating moving house again for the 7th time in just over 5 years, I am actually looking forward to moving. I think. I mean, I’m not looking forward to the actual moving of course, that would be crazy. But I am looking forward to being settled.

I’m looking forward to living right in the centre of town where everything I need will be within walking distance. I’m looking forward to living in a place where I already have a bunch of good friends who can’t wait to visit us.

Incidentally, I keep wondering why I found this place so unfriendly? I can’t work it out. I don’t think it has anything to do with Cornish culture, because we’re not even that far down into Cornwall, and it isn’t that Cornish here. (And before I am accused of being racist, I never thought it was that, but the suggestion keeps getting thrown into the mix, so I thought I’d mention it. Whether there is a truly Cornish culture, or whether what we’re experiencing up here is just countryside culture is another topic.)

I think the problem here has been a mixture of being here at the wrong time, with the wrong aged children (home educating never isolated us until we moved here, but the HE group in this place was just filled to the brim with under 8s. The only families with teens we knew passed through and moved away long ago) and apparently having nothing in common with any of the people we met. It can’t be helped. I think we weren’t meant to stay here, it was just for a season. I do just wish that season had been a little easier. But anyway. It’s nearly over.

And here’s another irony for you. After all this time – five years with virtually no friends despite huge effort on my part to be social and gregarious (without appearing desparate! lol) to no avail – I just discovered a local vegan group that didn’t seem to exist when I searched for it a year ago, or five years ago, and I’ve MADE FRIENDS.

Really.

So here’s what I am expecting to happen: when we move away, we will be coming back here to visit and go to the beach more than we ever did when we lived here.

Isn’t life just gloriously ridiculous?!

p.s. I just passed my one month as a vegan mark. It’s about as long as I’ve managed to stay vegan before, but this time I have plugged into social networking for accountability, and I’m thinking about getting a vegan tattoo. That would probably keep me vegan. Oy vey.

 

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Drive to Holsworthy

I have actually lost count now how many weeks I have been holed up at home, cocooned from the nasty weather, but it’s at least three weeks and could easily be double that.

This week I had a task that couldn’t be put off any longer. I had a cheque that I needed to put into the bank. I could have posted it in, but we need the money as fast as possible, so I needed to put it in by hand.

So I girded my loins and drove to Holsworthy. It’s quite a nice, country drive, about half an hour from Bude (I keep to the speed limit – it’s doubtless possible to get there quicker if you don’t). I wasn’t overjoyed to go as I had no company, and that always makes it harder, although I find driving largely okay provided I know where I’m going and I know where I can park.

But because I had no money, I couldn’t park close to the bank, I had to park in the Waitrose car park which is free and walk up the hill. Not far, about 5 minutes each way, but – you know, walking!!

I did it, and didn’t have any panic attacks, and so I popped into the co-op to buy myself a drink and a snack as a reward on the way back to the car.

If I were feeling stronger (and richer), I would have gone into Waitrose there. It is really such a civilised shopping experience compared with Morrisons etc. Sainsbury’s in Bude is also quite pleasant, and the Bude co-op is usually nicely empty too.

But not this time. I walked straight in, straight out and straight back to the car. The weather that day was nice so I enjoyed the fresh air and sunshine and the beautiful view over fields from the top of the Waitrose car park. But then I went straight home and slept all afternoon.

Small steps turn out to be quite exhausting.

Sorry no photos. Still no new phone. Feel free to donate to the Bude Agoraphobics Benevolent Fund.

Luke 8: Waiting on the Lord

These are my notes from Sunday’s sermon at the Pentecostal church. It might be a little disjointed because it is just notes, it’s not meant to be a polished article. I hope it’s of benefit to somebody.

This was actually an awesome, honest sermon – the Christian life is hard. We pray & things seem to get harder. Learning lessons is painful.

Don’t listen to the health and wealth prosperity gospel that tells you that you will get it all if you just do A, B and C. It’s not that simple.

“Count it all blessing when trials and temptations come.”

Between the vision and the season of fruition is an ‘out of season’ waiting period. Waiting for the breakthrough is the crucial time.

The day-to-day challenges of life are what move us towards the fruition of the vision.

It took Jesus 30 years before he moved into ministry. Before he came into the fullness of his destiny.

Focus on the small things to change the big things.

Luke 8:40 Jairus’ daughter. Jesus was on his way.

The woman with the issue of blood had waited 12 years. She had tried many things to be healed.

She grabbed hold of Jesus when the opportunity arose and was healed. “Your faith has healed you”.

Jairus was a synagogue leader, he must have been desperate to go to Jesus.

The woman delays Jesus, (and the girl dies). Did Jairus think she had got in the way of his miracle?

Seeing others get their breakthrough, miracle, healing, job, promotion etc. Makes us stop looking at Jesus and look jealously at them.

What about me, God?!

Then things get worse! The girl dies!

The breakthrough is impossible now! God! You missed your chance!

But Jairus doesn’t complain. He doesn’t listen when he is told “Don’t bother the teacher any more”.

Jairus trusts Jesus’ promise that he will go to his house.

“She’s not dead, she’s only sleeping.” The family doubts, but Jesus is confident, He knows the unlimited power of God.

Jesus brings life. But it might take him a while to get there.

God works on Cornish time.

We must live at peace with God’s promises. Even when Jesus’ attention seems to be elsewhere. Wait until he arrives.

Luke 8:22 Jesus calms the storm. The disciples fear they will lose their lives.

Jesus was fast asleep in the boat.

‘Waking Jesus up’ with prayer. He calms the sea but then rebukes them: “O ye of little faith”!

The disciples panicked. But Jairus did not panic.

Jesus is there in the boat, but we should know he has destiny on his life, everything will be alright. We don’t need to panic.

Jesus will bring to completion what he sets out to do. His word will not return to him void. You are in safe hands.

Luke 2: The prophetess Anna: waits in the temple, waited her whole lifetime to hear Jesus. Her faithfulness to the promise was incredible. She was 84 years old when she saw the fulfilment of the promise.

God is no liar. “All the promises of God in Christ are yea and Amen.”

Worry will not add one day to your life.

The Israelites wandered in the wilderness 40 years. Why? Because they did not trust God.

In the reality of God, all things are possible. Even when hope seems dead and buried.

You have a God for whom *all things are possible*.

If the promises are from God, they will come to fruition.

You need to be in a child-like place of trusting. You can trust Him because you are a child of God.

Are you in a place of peace?

We must understand the premise of resting and waiting on the Lord.

Jesus understood rest, taking time out to be with the Father. He was okay with the enormity of his destiny. He was at peace.

Get your eyes off other people’s blessings. Fix your eyes upon Jesus.

Apply yourself to the Word, we can hold the Word accountable. Walk, stand on the promises. Trust that they will come eventually.

Do the simple things well, because that’s what you are given now, on the way to your destiny.

Trip to Morrisons

So, as I alluded to in my last post, I am a (hopefully recovering) agoraphobic.

I never previously considered myself an anxious person (although I suspect my husband might disagree because he is so laid-back that he thinks hippies are highly strung! 🙂

But we have had a run of hard times, culminating last year with our landlord evicting us – not because we were bad tenants, or because we weren’t paying the rent: we were good, regular rent-paying tenants – but simply because he wanted to sell the house. My friends in the US were shocked and appalled that such action is legal, but here in the UK, tenants have almost no security, even when it’s the landlords who are bad, as in our case.

Our old house stood empty for almost a year while our greedy landlord learned the hard lesson that greed doesn’t always pay. And needless to say, I don’t have a lot of sympathy for him.

So, here I am, traumatised! Really not liking the house we are in now, but ironically stuck inside a lot of the time because going out sets off the anxiety, and I find ways to avoid going out unless absolutely necessary. Shopping deliveries have been a ‘life-saver’ in that regard.

But I am on the mend, hopefully, and trying to make sure that I do step out as much as I can.

So far this year the weather has been pretty horrendously un-outviting (humour me!) But since today was a little brighter, I girded my loins and got myself out… To the supermarket. Morrison’s in fact. By car. Not my favourite place, for sure. (And no pictures, obviously) But I did it.

One of these days – perhaps in the summer, I will actually start walking to places from home again but, for now, going by car and not having a panic attack inside was a small achievement.

So, yes, I do hope that my next outing will be more fun and joyful than a supermarket!

And it will be really great if you can forgive me for the boring blog without pictures so far, and help me with encouragement and accountability to keep trying 🙂

The Mountain of the Lord

This blog was intended to be primarily Anglican, and I do intend to start looking at the readings from the lectionary, but I haven’t been able to get to an Anglican service in a while due to illness, and the fact that I can’t get a lift before 10am.

So, lately, I have been hanging out at a local evangelical/ pentecostal church.

The most recent sermon was on a the topic of a single verse (verse 2) in Isaiah chapter 2:

“In the last days
the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established
as the highest of the mountains;
it will be exalted above the hills,
and all nations will stream to it.”

I am aware of course that there is a range of differing eschatological positions, and that the standard Anglican eschatology is basically preterist – i.e. (if I understand it correctly) that the majority of prophecy has already been fulfilled and/ or is to be taken metaphorically rather than literally.

I was raised in a church (an American Baptist from Grand Rapids, Michigan in fact!) that took the Pre-Trib, Pre-Millennial view (with the idea that the Rapture would occur literally, prior to a literal Tribulation and followed by a literal Millennium of the rule of the Kingdom of God) very seriously.

Eschatology is a branch of Theology that isn’t generally popular, but Tim LaHaye’s ‘Left Behind’ series (which advocated that same Pre-Trib, Pre-Millennial view) brought it into the public view and made it popular.

But having read a few of those books, one thing they did for me was to make me seriously doubt that I had it all figured out or that the view I had been brought up with was the one true interpretation it was presented as being.

So back to Isaiah 2. It would seem that the basic options for interpreting this verse (or rather passage, as it’s really just asking for misinterpretation if you take a single verse out of context) are either:

– that a literal temple will be established in the literal Jerusalem (as the rest of the passage suggests), at a future time (or that this literally happened at some past point that would have been future when it was written), OR

– that the temple is metaphorical, and that this metaphorical temple will be established (in either the literal or a metaphorical Jerusalem) in the future or has already been established. (Although once a passage is taken to be metaphorical, the time element can legitimately be ignored.)

The speaker in this case, without any apparent reference to the rest of the passage or the context, what it meant to the original writer or readers, or how the passage has traditionally been understood, spiritualised the meaning of the verse, suggesting that the ‘mountain’ referred to success, prosperity, and the proliferation of the Gospel, that the ‘Temple’ referred to men’s hearts, and that this was something that would happen in the future but that the ‘Last Days’ were now.  By extension, it was used to suggest that the future of the local church was very bright.

It is not my intention to slander anybody of course nor to offend or upset the speaker in question. (If he is reading this, I would be happy to discuss it!) But this struck me as a particularly careless handling of Scripture. Not because it wasn’t a possible interpretation (it fits with the second option, although what ‘Jerusalem’ represents wasn’t addressed because it was outside of the scope of that single verse), but rather because the suggestion really was that, if you take a verse out of context, it’s alright to make it mean anything you want it to mean, and that the original intention is of no consequence. Of course, in some ways, that would seem to be the prevailing view anyway.

The rest of the passage continues:

Many peoples will come and say,

“Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord,
    to the temple of the God of Jacob.
He will teach us his ways,
    so that we may walk in his paths.”
The law will go out from Zion,
    the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
He will judge between the nations
    and will settle disputes for many peoples.
They will beat their swords into plowshares
    and their spears into pruning hooks.
Nation will not take up sword against nation,
    nor will they train for war anymore.

Come, descendants of Jacob,
    let us walk in the light of the Lord.

The line ‘They will beat their swords into plowshares’ is a very famous phrase which is often quoted at memorial services for servicemen, in a wish to end the ongoing futility of war, so there is a lot in the passage that wasn’t even touched on in the sermon, and the passage immediately following this one is about the ‘Day of the Lord’ which is usually understood to refer to judgement rather than blessing and reward.

What does it matter whether or not we get our eschatology right? Do we need to know what is coming up in the future? Do we need to have a right understanding of the chronology of end-time events? Will it alter our thinking and behaviour if we have different ideas about the flow of history, the direction of events and the ultimate end-game? Or should we just be faithful in every age?

There is a sense in which Scripture can be understood to have multiple fulfillments so, for example, some of the passages in Isaiah which are clearly understood to be Messianic in nature – foretelling the coming of Christ – may have had an early fulfillment (a ‘shadow’ of things to come), a fulfillment at the time of Christ, and/ or possibly an ultimate fulfillment at the end of the age. So from that point of view it may be possible to accommodate multiple interpretations without one cancelling out the other. As a Messianic Jewish Anglican who tends to see a future for Israel, the Jewish people and Torah in the church, I would support that ‘multiple fulfillments’ view.

But does that make it possible for Isaiah 2:2 to be telling us that the future of the local church in Cornwall is prosperity and success in evangelism? It seems a bit of a stretch to me.

Finding New Favourite Places

I’ve lived in north Cornwall for coming up for 5 years in March 2016, but I haven’t really properly investigated my local town or much of the countryside or coast around north Devon and Cornwall. I wanted to love the place, but I haven’t enjoyed being here nearly as much as I thought I would. But I know it is one of the most beautiful places in the world, and I’m incredibly lucky to be here, so I want to learn to fall in love with where I live.

I’m a city girl who has found the learning curve of the cultural shift from city to the countryside and a country town a big challenge, and I haven’t got settled at all.

So this year, one of my New Year’s Resolutions will be to thoroughly investigate all the best things about Devon and Cornwall in general and Bude in particular, and discover some new favourite places. To keep myself to this fun resolution, I thought that I could use the accountability of posting reviews, and it might be a fun record of my discoveries.

I will aim to post at least once a week, but since I have other blogs, I can forewarn you that it might be somewhat erratic. But I’ll do my best. I didn’t get a new camera or phone for Christmas, sadly, but I’ll do my best to try and get some good snaps to post, and a better camera/ phone is top of my list of things to buy for myself when I can.

So I hope anyone reading has had a great Christmas, and I wish you all a very happy and productive new year.

Over to you:

I would love to hear from anybody with local knowledge with recommendations of places to visit.

What are your new year’s resolutions?

Home Ed & Fibro

I imagined when we started the new year that I would somehow manage to find the time to post regular weekly updates. Of course that hasn’t happened. I would like to be able to say that it’s due to being far too busy to blog! But in fact it has been more to do with ill health.

I wonder how common it is for families with both parents and children with chronic diseases to home educate.

It has been on my mind to organise some pages with links, books and resources for both parents and children with chronic illness. I will get round to it. But right now I am struggling due to my ME and Fibro pain – struggling with the most basic activities such as housework and cooking, staying awake for any length of time after showering, driving, walking. I’m not quite bedbound but I have been very much more limited than usual.

We have been managing short spurts of homeschooling. Of course, it isn’t necessary to do anything formal at all – we have tried to cultivate a way of life that incorporates constant learning. But we have become more formal recently and I like to feel that we have achieved something quantifiable every day.

We have reached a little bit of an impasse with regards dyslexia, and we have abandoned the attempt to learn joined up writing – I had read that it is recommended by some experts as something that helps the brain make connections, but I think that when the dyslexia is severe, it only serves to confuse further. I’m looking now into software to help them work on the computer instead. When I have something in place I will let you know.

We did manage a couple of field trips and activities in September: a medieval castle ruin in Launceston, the first meeting of the new Home Ed Teens group and surprisingly regular trips to the library, but there were lots of things I had to say no to.

The two eldest have started their courses with the local adult education centre. It’s a bit of a hodge-podge but they offer some quite nice opportunities for free. At the moment they’re doing some photography which they’re enjoying.

The two youngest are part of a drama group and we organised a new sports group (or rather, I should say, I got the ball rolling and somebody else has kindly taken over the organising as it is not my forté!) which starts in October.

I’m having to re-learn to pace myself after a long spell of not needing to worry too much, but I hope to be able to manage my energy well enough to get some more fun things done in October. And I’ll try and post more often.

Roundup of the Summer

I just thought, as the sun is streaming in where I am sitting and brightening my spirits, that I would do a quick (ha! Sorry it got long!) roundup of what’s been happening to me over the summer.

I’ve been very quiet, I’m sorry. I have noticed a pattern of becoming ill just as the summer is starting and getting a bit better as the weather and the seasons turn to autumn, but this year I have got progressively more ill as the summer has gone on – perhaps it’s due to the ‘Indian’ summer we’re having down here in Cornwall? (Which is lovely by the way!) I actually love the heat and the sunshine, but for some reason it doesn’t agree with my body.

Somebody suggested I might have reverse SAD, and I have struggled with depression and mental health issue this summer, so I don’t know if that is the cause of my summer lows, but it definitely wasn’t helped by some blood pressure tablets (Amlopidine) I was given. They did nothing to help my hypertension, but they totally flipped me out mentally. I stopped them and tried again three times so I know they were definitely the cause – I was experiencing racing thoughts, ultra-rapid changes of mood, agoraphobia and suicidal thoughts. I even contacted Outlook South-west for help, but they were only interested in the agoraphobia. I have had a series of telephone therapy sessions but it hasn’t really been very helpful. The racing thoughts and mood changes stopped as soon as I stopped taking Amlopidine, but the rest has stuck around. I think that all the stress and upset of eviction and the last few years made me vulnerable and susceptible to mental illness and Amlopidine pushed me over the edge.

At the same time, I was feeling very extremely ill physically, with increasing numbness, tingling, balance issues and migraines in addition to all my other symptoms. After being told for the umpteenth time by my GP that “there is nothing we can do for you”, I made the decision to change surgeries and get myself a new GP.

It was SO totally the right decision. Already I have been offered referrals to a Neurologist to rule out MS and a Rheumatologist to investigate the possibility of RA or Sjogrens with the promise of further referrals to come. Finally I am hopeful that it will be possible to get to the bottom of what my health issues really are and then move towards healing and health after so many years. (12 and counting)

On medical advice, I agreed that the vegan diet was doing me no good, and I have moved back to a paleo / primal style low carb diet. At first I only added fish but now I am back to eating meat as well. I began to feel better for the first three weeks and then crashed very badly. Having started to read Dr Sarah Myhill’s excellent book “Diagnosis and Treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome: Mitochondria not Hypochondria”, I have realised I was probably going too low carb (under 20g per day) and on her advice I am starting to take a supplement of a specific sugar called D-Ribose which she says is needed for certain hormonal conversions in the cells. It is a sugar which the body can normally synthesise itself, but people with ME can’t make it so it becomes an essential supplement. I will let you know when I have read more of the book and if I see any improvement. I’m also looking again at the Trim Healthy Mama diet (you know, the one that I slated not so long ago), realising I may need to incorporate some E meals (with light carbs) due to my health issues.

Incidentally, since going back to wheat-free, low carb / paleo / primal my blood pressure and cholesterol have almost normalised. Sadly, the weight is not shifting at all. (But at least it’s not going up any more as it did on vegan and vegetarian diets)

I haven’t been able to go to church since about May and that has definitely contributed to my feeling of malaise mentally. Even though we are living in town, I have been very isolated indeed. On the few occasions I have driven out to meet people I have been very ill afterwards so I am having to take it very easy and pace my energy out carefully.

On the housing front, I am not happy at all. Yesterday we went to see a house. It was big, but dark inside and it’s far away from husband’s work, so he didn’t like it and I can’t seem to persuade him to move. But it was beside a beautiful babbling brook that you could hear from inside or sit outside and watch it. When I got home I cried and shook with rage and grief. I feel so angry that husband moved us away from our home 5 years ago to seemingly never-ending stress, and doesn’t seem to care that it has made me so much sicker, that I haven’t been able to make friends, that I’m miserable and ill and that a three storey house is so totally inappropriate for somebody with ME.

I sat beside my bedroom window this morning and tried to imagine that the rumbling noise and clatter of building trucks and machinery was a babbling brook instead.

So my situation now is mixed. I am very happy and hopeful about my change of GP, but desperately unhappy about my living situation (and none too happy about my marriage).

I’m not sure whether I’m hopeful that things will improve as the autumn rolls in. I feel that I can’t be happy in this house, it’s just so stupidly arranged. Kitchen on the ground floor, living room on the first floor and bedrooms on the second floor. I just can’t cope. If I moved down to the tiny single bedroom on the ground floor, I’d need to go to the second floor to wash. I could go on and on but I won’t. Suffice to say, this house is making my life and health much worse, and I can’t wait to get out of here. The prospect of staying makes me desperate.

To finish on a light and happy note…. I try to come up with a list of 5 things to be grateful for every day (I sometimes post them on my @health_Shmi twitter account). Sometimes I struggle to come up with anything, in which case I am grateful for the 5 other people in my family. But here is today’s list: sunshine, hifi playing random CDs (Youngest son is my DJ), happy fat cat laying in the sun, daughter made me a coffee, and finally it is Friday and the weekend is coming 🙂

Enjoy!

Autumn Plans 2015

Just a quick update and a moan!

Our summer has flown by and been filled with a week at Creation Fest (which involved lots of music, skating, and eating doughnuts!) A week with my mum and brother, showing them round north Cornwall, and finally a week in Watford with a few trips and get togethers with friends and looking after my sister-in-law’s pets while she was away.

This is the last week of our summer holiday, and we’re planning to start back with lessons next week, but I am very frustrated right now! I had planned to start Sonlight levels D and 100 but most of our books are still in storage after moving at this point, and realistically I may not have access to them until later on in the year, so it’s back to the drawing board for now.

I do have Heart of Dakota’s World Geography level for Pony-rider, so we can start that (I had originally intended to intersperse that reading with her other studies rather than as a stand-alone programme), and for the boys? Not sure yet. I don’t think we can do any kind of organised study but we can read the books we do have, and maybe do some projects relating to their interests until the Sonlight books are available.

Pony-rider and Dragon-tamer, additionally, are both planning to do vocational courses this year with the local college, but I don’t know the details of those yet.

My goals for September are these:

• More regular exercise, and get out more – every day, if only for 5 minutes or in the garden if possible.
• Make an effort to get some appropriate social interaction, whether that be with the local group, the new Cornwall Teens group or other activities. (I don’t like driving far, I’m a bit of a homebody, but unfortunately that is just a reality of home ed in a rural area.)
• Earlier to bed, earlier to rise, and
• More regular meal times together, if possible, together with healthier eating choices. I think this will help with monitoring Motor-Biker’s blood sugar levels as well.
• Make more use of our annual season tickets to Eden Project!

Specifically academic goals:

• Concentrate on improving the boys’ handwriting which has degenerated recently
• Explore options for handicrafts and activities which don’t require reading and writing. (A photography club has been mentioned as a possible option.)
• Aim to read 4+ literature books together this month.
• Carry on with current course books for History / Geography and Science. (Science has definitely got neglected this last term, so I need to make sure that doesn’t happen.)
• Start new resources for Maths, with more emphasis on discussion and understanding than written work.
• They’re all wanting to do different languages now, so I’m not sure how that will work as they’re not very independent learners and like a lot of hand-holding. We have plenty of resources, they’d just need to do the work.
• And finally, for me – I need to get more organised with stationery and record-keeping – most of the last couple of years’ work has just got lost in amongst the house-moving chaos.

What are your plans for the new school year?

The Kingdom Divided

I have been quite shocked and disappointed this week to (re-)discover two things:

Firstly that anti-semitism is alive and kicking in the churches, particularly down here in Cornwall.

Secondly, that there are many groups and individuals who believe that gentile believers are not part of Israel proper, only on the fringe as part of the ‘commonwealth’, and that Torah is only for Jews (and beyond that, that we need the “oral Torah” to properly understand and obey Torah).

To my understanding of the scriptures, such a view and practice of exclusion is falsely resurrecting the partition wall that Yeshua tore down. It is a little bit like saying that gentiles aren’t really part of the Kingdom, which is after all what “Israel” is meant to be – the Kingdom where God reigns.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, male nor female, slave nor free”

We are meant to be equal and “one”, united in Messiah. As I have said many times, we seem to be yet very far from that ideal. There is still racism, sexism and class and cultural differences which separate us. But certainly we should not be perpetuating such division.

I am supremely grateful that this was not my experience in the Messianic fellowship I attended, which was run by a very lovely, humble Jewish man, who seemed to be quite ‘colour-blind’ when it came to Jew and gentile, whereas I had been turned away from certain other groups that I won’t shame by naming here for not being Jewish! How heartbreaking and divisive!

My conversion, which was what you might call a ‘Ruth-ite’ conversion, a simple declaration as the Biblical Ruth made that “Your people will be my people, and your God my God” is not generally recognised by Jewish or Messianic groups. I find myself in the position of being ‘not quite Jewish enough’ for some Messianic groups, and ‘too Jewish’ for some church groups!

Since there is no official Messianic conversion process in the UK, there is a temptation – even perhaps a push by groups who exclude gentile believers in this way – to convert via Reform or Orthodox means. (In a conversation just this week I was told that if a gentile wants to keep Torah, they must convert to Judaism!)

Since such conversion involves either hiding or denying your affiliation to Yeshua Jesus, that is totally unacceptable in my view, but it is an inevitable result when gentile believers feel particularly called to Israel and the Jewish people and to Torah, and both these things are denied to them as gentiles.

The crux really of this matter rests on what the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15 meant when it ruled on gentile believers coming into the Kingdom:

It was being suggested by “a certain sect of the Pharisees who believed” that gentiles could not become part of the Kingdom unless they were first circumcised and kept the whole law, but Paul and Barnabus show that God had shown his inclusion of gentiles by imparting the Holy Spirit, and by many signs and miracles among them.

“And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; *And put no difference between us and them*, purifying their hearts by faith.”
Verses 8 and 9, my emphasis.

In verse 20, the ruling is that Gentile believers must only do the following:
“that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood.” verse 20

This is really a minimum standard, but even this has been generally ignored by the church because it seems to contradict their understanding that anything at all is permissable to eat. (That’s another discussion for another day!)

But then in verse 21, James goes on to say, “For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.”

Again, this verse is generally either ignored or misunderstood. What does James mean? Well, the early believers were meeting in the synagogue, reading the weekly Torah portions.

In other words, they were learning Torah gradually. There is an implicit suggestion there that the gentile believers will gradually conform their lives to Torah, and so it is not necessary to lay the whole law on them at the outset, and certainly not as a condition for salvation.

But wait, you say! Paul says the following in verse 10:

“Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?”

What does he mean by that? Of course, it has been taken to mean that the “yoke” refers to Torah itself. But is that really the case? Is God’s own law a burden and a bondage from which we must flee and escape?

In Leviticus 26:13, God says:

“I am the Lord your God, which brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that ye should not be their bondmen; and *I have broken the bands of your yoke*, and made you go upright.”
(My emphasis)

This is in the context of the giving of the Torah. No, the “yoke” is not Torah itself – God did not rescue the Israelites from the bondage of Egypt only to lay another bondage on them – but rather, the “yoke” is all the additional rules and regulations, what is commonly referred to as the “Oral Torah” put in place as a “hedge around Torah”. The clue is in the word “Pharisee”.

What does Jesus say about those additional Pharisaical rules?

Matthew 15:3 “Why do ye also transgress the commandment of God by your tradition?” He goes on to give examples of how they are doing that, and then in verse 7: “Thus have ye made the commandment of God of none effect by your tradition.”

So Jesus regards the Torah as the commandment of God, holy and good, whereas the ‘Oral Torah’ is no such thing. Indeed, it can be quite the opposite when it contradicts Torah.

The scriptures, especially the psalms are replete with the idea that the law of God is good. Even Paul acknowledges in many places that the law is good, for example in Romans 7:7 he says:

“What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid!”

In conclusion, although I realise this is a massive subject and we could argue back and forth on the subject of the law and to what extent Christians should observe it, there is no suggestion whatsoever that Torah is for Jews only and not for gentiles.

In as far as gentiles are grafted into the Olive Tree through faith in Messiah, we are meant to be “one new man”, part of the same body. That is not to say that you cannot retain your identity as Jewish or gentile as a believer, but the wall between us has been broken down. Don’t build it up again.